Though asbestos and lead paint are well known health and safety hazards, another environmental hazard is also causing problems. There have been multi million dollar cases involving symptoms like chronic fatigue, nausea, hemorrhaging, asthma and rashes- that are all potentially linked to one thing: toxic mold in rentals.
Whether you are a tenant, a property manager, or a landlord, you need to know what to look for and where you stand in terms of liability. The best way to do this is to prevent mold before it becomes an issue.
Most people realize that there are different types of mold, but they don’t realize that the different types can cause different problems. Some mold is obvious, because well, it’s gross, it looks gross, and it smells gross. Others, however, you don’t even realize they’re there, because they are growing between the walls, under your floors, or in basements.
Ultimately, the source of the mold is where you want to take care of matters. Mold cannot grow without a good moisture source. When you live in a naturally more humid state or area, you are probably going to have more of an issue than say, someone who lives in a drier climate.
Right now, it’s still up in the air about what mold does and does not do, respective of health. This becomes even more so when you get into which molds are doing what, and what risks they pose. However, for people who have been injured or become sick because of mold spores, there’s very little doubt that there is some impact. One of the areas of concern is whether or not someone has inhaled spores or ingested them- and there are new tests out there that can help with that.
Where it gets a little unclear is, what mold is truly hazardous and what is not? Most mold isn’t going to hurt you. If you’ve got some kind of gross slime on your shower tile- odds are, this isn’t going to make you sick. It’s just gross. However, the CDC has a wealth of information that can help you to determine if you’re dealing with mold that is dangerous or not.
So, what can you do if you’re renting and you have found toxic mold in your home? Unfortunately, there have only been a small handful of places where mold laws have been laid down respective of regulations. There are a few states and cities that have enacted mold laws. To find out if you are in one such area, you can go to the Environmental Health Legislation Databases Guide in the National Conference of State Legislatures and do a search for mold.
Apart from that, you may still have some recourse. Because mold occurs due to moisture, the issue might be one of habitability- that is, if the mold is caused by an issue that is covered under landlord tenant law. If the mold is a result of a repair that the landlord should have made but did not, then, it may be something actionable.